Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Lucy

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Lucy

Article excerpt


15, Nationwide

Here's an idea for an article:TheTree of Life (2011) is the most influential film of the past decade. There's quite a strong case to be made. Everything from car adverts to Hollywood blockbusters seems to have a touch of the Terrence Malick. They all span from cornfield to cosmos, from ant-hill to apocalypse, while characters breathe epigrams at each other about love and beauty and rebirth. This was true of last year'sGravity andMan of Steel . It also looks true of Christopher Nolan's forthcomingInterstellar . Just find a few more examples, work them into 1,000 words, and I'm sureThe Spectator will pay a couple of hundred quid for it.

The reason I mention this is Luc Besson's latest movie,Lucy . At last, we have a straight-upTree of Life action thriller - 'Tree Hard'. You might have heard about its plot already. This is the one where Scarlett Johansson, as the eponymous Lucy, is stitched up with a super-drug that then leaks into her bloodstream and gives her access to the 90 per cent of her brain that we humans tend to leave untrammelled -- apparently, although this may be dodgy science. But forget about that for a second, and just marvel at all the Malick in this film. Its first line is 'Life was given to us a billion years ago' and, from there, it gives us dinosaurs and the Big Bang. Just likeThe Tree of Life did.

Inhuman being: Scarlett Johansson as Lucy

This isn't to say that Besson is simply plagiarising that wonderful genius Terrence. In truth,Lucy feels like a natural path for him to take. His films -- whether it's those he has directed, such asLéon (1994), or those he has written, such asTaken (2008) -- have always had an internationalist bent. He enjoys placing foreign characters in foreign countries. So this collage of pyramids and savannahs, of cityscapes and supernovae, plays like an extension of that. For Besson, there are no borders.

Ugh. I'm starting to get pretentious, when that's generally not whatLucy is about. What Besson does brilliantly is alchemise all of these images and concerns into 90 minutes of fun, popcorn cinema. One of the film's earliest scenes is a case in point. We're a few minutes in, and Lucy has had a briefcase full of drugs handcuffed to her wrist, her new boyfriend shot, and now she's sat opposite a blood-spattered Korean mob boss (Choi Min-sik, who was the lead in the originalOldboy ) in a Taiwanese skyscraper, with a translator placed between them on speakerphone. …

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